Massacre bid in Coleraine
Loyalist paramilitaries sprayed bullets at the home of a man who is due to give evidence about the UDA murder of his cousin, Kevin McDaid, on Wednesday night.
Peter Neill said he and a group of friends had a lucky escape when his home in Coleraine, County Derry, was hit by 35 bullets. A last-minute decision to travel to Scotland for a Celtic game meant their usual gathering at his home to watch soccer was cancelled.
The well-planned gun attack penetrated bullet-proof windows installed shortly after the killing of Mr McDaid three years ago.
Mr Neill is to appear as a witness in the upcoming manslaughter trial into Mr McDaid’s death, and he believes that was the reason the attack was planned.
Twelve men have been charged with the manslaughter of the Catholic father-of-four, and are due to stand trial shortly. The Heights and Killowen area of Coleraine have been tense since Mr Mc Daid’s death.
Mr McDaid died following trouble that broke out when a group of loyalists tore down Irish tricolours in the nationalist Heights area.
A heavy-calibre gun was used in the attack, which took place close to where Mr McDaid died. But by chance, Mr Neill had travelled to Glasgow to watch Celtic play in a Champions League game.
“I only got a spare ticket for the football game that morning,” he said.
Mr Neill said around ten friends would normally gather in his flat to watch Celtic matches and those responsible for the shooting “knew that”.
“This was attempted mass murder,” he said. “Bullets came straight through the bullet-proof windows.”
SDLP assembly member John Dallat has also blamed loyalist paramilitaries for the devastating gun attack, and criticised what he said was support being lent to the paramilitaries by DUP politicians in the area.
* Loyalists were also blamed for an attempt to sabotage an Irish music night at the Ardoyne Fleadh in north Belfast earlier this week. An electricity substation at Ballysillan was targeted on Sunday night, leaving about 6,000 homes across north Belfast without power. However, the music festival had a back-up power supply, and was unaffected.